Those voices are discussing George Floyd, a 46-year-old father of two murdered in police custody for the crime of being a black man in America.
To paraphrase a famous quote, there are decades where nothing happens, there are weeks where decades happen, and there are weeks where decades happen because nothing has happened for decades.
George Floyd’s egregious murder is only the latest example of a black life being casually discarded in the streets of the United States as if it were a Starbucks cup.
In this instance, Mr. Floyd was pinned down under the knee of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, whose casually placed his hands in pockets during the suffocation, in case he needed to reach for his everyday carry essentials like his keys, his wallet, or his indifference to the breath of an unarmed black man.
As Mr. Floyd lost his pulse over a matter of twenty dollars beneath the leg of a public servant who took an oath to protect, two other officers helped keep him pinned down while another served as lookout, each earning their five-dollar cut of what ultimately amounted to their value of his humanity.
As protests spread across the United States, calling attention to a different virus that’s been lingering since the very founding of this nation, police have responded with the types of kindness, empathy, and restraint you’d typically associate with the peacekeepers patrolling District 11 of The Hunger Games.
Decked out in the same types of surplus warzone equipment found in a Call of Duty expansion pack, everything from armored vehicles to flash bang grenades have been put to use by police departments trying to stop people that believe that police departments need to be stopped.
NYPD and LAPD police cruisers plowed into crowds of peaceful demonstrators; police in Louisville destroyed caches of milk left out to counter the effects of tear gas; even credentialed journalists were zip-tied like the back of a computer.
If Kendall Jenner wanted to cross the line to hand an officer another peaceful can Pepsi, she’d likely lose an eye to a rubber bullet — which no amount of her sister’s $18 mascara can conceal.
Getting justice for George Floyd alone isn’t enough, just as coating a building with fresh paint doesn’t amount to foundation repair.
Whether it’s Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, or any of the other countless names spanning decades and predating hashtags, we the people have failed, once again, to right the wrongs of denied justice, deliver accountable public safety, and address racist violence and racial disparities brought forth by a trigger-happy nation hell-bent on ignoring its toughest questions, like a high school student who takes a few guesses when it’s multiple choice but doesn’t even try to fill out the essay.
To those who are just joining us, the United States has long been a deeply broken country.
And after the children opened fire on their classmates, the nurses wore garbage bags to care for their patients, and Universal released fourteen Fast and Furious movies,
Its citizens once again took to the streets over the obvious, simple, and yet unrealized notion that black lives matter, only for military police to beat crowds into submission so that an obese racist, a hundred and seven years to the day after his late father was arrested at a KKK rally, could awkwardly hoist a bible above his shoulder like a waiter balancing a tray of entrees that he’s been spitting in since the beginning of his shift.
It’s going to take more than a podcast episode from people like me to help communities of color live without fear and enjoy a fair shot at an ordinary life.
But until we all demand that our voices are heard, by protesting, donating, and voting to send the message that we’ve had far more than enough of this incredibly disgusting, all-American buffet, looking at birds, going for a jog, or buying a pack of cigarettes still won’t be aspects of an ordinary life.
They’ll be matters of life and death.